Carbothermal synthesis of carbon-supported nanoscale zero-valent iron particles for the remediation of hexavalent chromium

Laura B. Hoch, Elizabeth J. Mack, Bianca W. Hydutsky, Jessica M. Hershman, Joanna M. Skluzacek, Thomas E. Mallouk

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346 Scopus citations


Nanoscale, zero-valent iron is a promising reagent for in situ reduction of a variety of subsurface contaminants, but its utility in full-scale remediation projects is limited by material costs. Iron nanoparticles (20-100 nm diameter) supported on carbon (C-Fe0) were synthesized by reacting iron salts, adsorbed or impregnated from aqueous solutions onto 80 m2/g carbon black, at 600-800°C under Ar. Similar products were obtained by heating the reactants under air in a covered alumina crucible. X-ray powder diffraction patterns show that Fe3O4 particles are formed at 300-500°C in the initial stage of the reaction and that these particles are reduced to a mixture of α- and γ-Fe nanoparticles above 600°C. When C-Fe0 was combined with carboxymethylcellulose in a 5:1 weight ratio in water, the resulting material had similar transport properties to previously optimized nanoiron/polyanion suspensions in water-saturated sand columns. At a 10:3 Fe/Cr mole ratio, C-Fe0 reduced a 10 ppm Cr(VI) solution to ∼1 ppm within three days. The surface area normalized first-order Cr removal rate was 1.2 h-1 m-2 under these conditions. These results demonstrate that reactive nanoiron with good transport properties in water-saturated porous media can be made in a scalable process from inexpensive starting materials by carbothermal reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2600-2605
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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